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Bill Bruford - Bruford: One Of A Kind CD (album) cover

BRUFORD: ONE OF A KIND

Bill Bruford

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.11 | 288 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
3 stars I love Bill Bruford's playing with Yes and I heard some great stuff with King Crimson. Furthermore, I enjoy hearing him speak on music documentaries. I read his autobiography and he cited "One of a Kind" as a favourite album, along with King Crimson's "Red" which I also like. Then in Stephen Lambe's book, "Citizens of Hope and Glory: the Story of Progressive Rock," the album is mentioned as one of 65 albums worthy of hearing. My curiosity piqued, I ordered the album earlier this year.

The album opens with a quick steady beat on what sounds like an early electronic drum or a large sheet of thick plastic and is presently joined by a jolly synthesizer rhythm that made me think, "Oh, good gravy, no! Not another Cozy Powell!"

Several years ago, I bought "Over the Top", an album by Cozy Powell that featured Don Airey, Gary Moore, and possibly a guest appearance by Jeff Beck if I recall correctly. I had high expectations but the album was almost embarrassing to play. Most of the music was written by Airey (who I think is a remarkable player) and was almost like supermarket muzak in sound with added classical and jazz references. Blame the synthesizer sound. I might have played the album through twice before finally selling it and deleting it entirely from my iTunes library.

Fortunately for Bruford and me, the music of this track does become less embarrassing and more enjoyable, though for a piece of music with a title like "Hells Bells" I would have expected something less like a pop song treated to muzak and then mixed with jazz.

The rest of the album sounds better most of the time. The main problem I have here is that jazz / rock is not something I have added to my music collection prior (except for Dixie Dregs) so I have a hard time loving the tunes as much as someone with a developed lexicon in Canterbury and other forms of jazz fusion rock. "One of Kind" has a tendency for each track to sound a little similar to the others. Of course they are all distinct. The first 30 seconds of each track will tell you that. But there's a kind of formula that insists that each track have some drama somewhere, some melody somewhere, some slower lounge jazz parts, and some flash solos. Just hit shuffle.

Bruford doesn't try to show off as he did when he was younger. Instead he chooses safe 4/4 beats much of the time and adds in fills when required. The times his playing perks up my ears is usually a well-timed and effective drum fill as the music transfers from one part to another. In his autobiography, however, he said that he was happy to write music and work it over with talented musicians and let them create the fabulous music out of his offering. I would say that he has achieved that here.

Allan Holdsworth is of course a wizard during his solos. His technique clearly must have inspired many young guitarists who would contribute to the sound of the rock guitar in hair metal bands in the 80's. There is again a kind of sameness at that crops up at times. Holdsworth will play a few melodic notes and then do a quick run of fingers over the fret board on many of the tracks. "Five G" features some fuzz tone playing that is a nice variation on the album. Basically, I'm left with the impression that Holdsworth can do amazing things with the guitar but repeats himself frequently.

Dave Stewart uses a variety of sounds from his polysynthesizers, some of them more effective and pleasing than others. "One of a Kind" part one employs a keyboard setting that sounds really dated. I can't imagine how they thought this sound was a good one. "Byown, byown" go the keyboards. "Hey, great sound. Let's use it on the album." His choice for sound setting in "Travels with Myself - And Someone Else" includes what must have been labelled as "flute" or "clarinet" but like so many early and also cheaper synthesizers these days too, it doesn't really sound like what it is supposed to sound like. All the same, Stewart makes it work here. "The Abingdon Chasp" includes some pleasant lounge jazz piano as well in parts.

Jeff Berlin deserves mention as the guy cannot be allowed to play just an ordinary bass line on any track that I noticed. His genius as a bass player really shows through even when he's just playing the bass behind the soloists. He also gets a cool bass intro on "Five G" and a frenetic solo elsewhere.

Though there are a few tracks that have moments that sound great to my ears, the composition to win it for me is "Fainting in Coils". It has a dark beginning and some terrific jazzy keyboards. Parts are light and simple, others darker and suspenseful. This track treads over a few different terrains and serves as a great summary of the album while holding enough excitement to stand out as the pick of the litter. Everyone really lays into it for the conclusion. Aside from this track, there are excellent parts to crop up throughout the album and tracks like "The Sahara of Snow" parts one and two and "Five G" are also very good examples of this band's abilities.

Though the music may sound a little repetitive at times and I am quite the novice at this point, I still think the playing is superior. I personally can't quite feel obliged to give it four stars because I find it hard to consider this as an excellent addition to just any prog collection as there are surely people like me who can't quite be so thrilled about the jazz element. On the other hand, if you love jazz fusion, jazz, or Canterbury then this might just be not only an excellent addition but an essential one. So take note that my three stars are for my taste personally and I fully recommend this album to anyone more inclined to appreciate it.

FragileKings | 3/5 |

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